As summarized and explored in a psychological study by Thomas and Duke (2007), writers are no strangers to depression. I briefly discussed this issue in a previous post, and it has been a subject of considerable discussion in the scientific community and in the media.
Women poets have been identified to be the group at greatest risk to experience depression,(Kaufman and Baer, 2002). In her book Sunbathing in the Rain, the Welsh poet and writer Gwyneth Lewis does an excellent job of describing her descent into an immobilizing darkness, and the impact depression had on her writing and life. Lewis is able to clearly articulate the agonizing challenges of her struggle, and also describe what helped turn things around.
Depression does not always prevent writers from writing, but it often does. Symptoms such as suicidal ideation, loss of energy, excessive or troubled sleep patterns, brooding on negative memories or thoughts, hopelessness, low self-esteem, withdrawal from relationships, and low productivity are signs that indicate it’s time to find help. In addition to the overall impact on your quality of life, these symptoms can negatively impact the ability or desire to write.
The good news is that the vast majority of depressions are temporary and improve with time and/or treatment. If you are struggling with a depressed mood, for your own peace of mind as well as your writing, don’t go too long without accessing some form of assistance, or reading Gwyneth Lewis’ book.